It is so easy sometimes to condemn the mothers who neglect their children.
It is easy to condemn the fathers who abandon them, the grandparents who don’t come to their aid, the uncles, aunts, brothers who hurt and abuse the little ones in their care. They are family – and instead of protecting their own, they don’t take their responsibilities seriously.
It is so hard sending our children home to these situations at the end of every day.
When he’s been sick for weeks, and they self-medicate instead of taking him to the doctor. When she shows up at our door battling yet another infection, and she’s covered in filth from head to toe. When he’s up late working in the garbage dump, and falls asleep in school the next day for the hundredth time. When she tells you that she was scared at night, and mom was too busy in the next room with her latest companion.
All you want to do is hold that child tightly in your arms and never let them go.
You don’t want to trust their mother – she’s messed up before and she’ll mess up again. You don’t want to trust God when he whispers in your ear that these families deserve another chance. You put conditions on His gift of grace – the grace that’s saved you and longing to reach these families too.
God is calling you to extend his forgiveness to these mothers. To give them yet another chance. And all you want to do is yell no and take all those children home with you.
You don’t want to stop and wonder if she self-medicates her baby because there was no money to go the doctor. You don’t want to wonder if she didn’t bathe her daughter because they haven’t been able to get water in days. You don’t want to wonder if he works in the garbage dump because putting food on the table is a more immediate need than an education. You don’t want to wonder if she is with another man because she is absolutely terrified of being alone.
You don’t want to stop and accept that you are no better than them.
That you are a sinful human being that God has poured his grace over time and time again. That you have never lived their past or faced their hardships. That if you had, you have no idea if you would make the same choices.
But if we stop and acknowledge these things and give these families another chance yet again we will be amazed. We will see kids transform into happy, well-adjusted kids. We will see parents making small, steady steps toward giving their child a good life. We will see families grow strong and stable.
Now sometimes these second chances don’t work. We have had children go because their parents aren’t committed to them. They choose not to love and care for them well – even when given the ability to do so. Those situations do happen, and when there is blatant neglect or abuse, the child should absolutely be removed from the home.
But we’re finding those situations are rare. We find that a majority of families love their kids and when given the tools and knowledge to care for them properly, they improve. It doesn’t happen overnight. It is a miracle that happens over lots of time and lots of frustration and lots and lots of grace.